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Boycotting agences who pay too little
Thread poster: Rachel Mackay

Rachel Mackay  Identity Verified
Local time: 10:28
French to English
+ ...
Jul 24, 2003

I've just seen a job on proz.com for a new project with 300,000 words to be translated in 6 weeks. The agency is willing to pay a total amount only (as opposed to rate per word) and the actual USD per word comes out at less than USD0.02.

Now, maybe I'm getting synical in my old age, but aren't translators that accept such poorly paid projects giving a bad name to our industry?

I know that discounts are sometimes agreed on for large projects - but honestly, less than 2 cents per word is ridiculous.

Shouldn't we simply boycott such agencies? After all, average rates per translation pair are becoming an industry standard, and someone paying well below that rate is laughing in the face of our profession.


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Bruce Popp  Identity Verified
United States
Local time: 05:28
French to English
I bid with what I thought was reasonable. Jul 24, 2003

Hi,

I did bid, but kept my self-respect. Here is part of what I told them.

"I can translate about 3000 words a day, so during that period I could translate 60,000 words total for $6,000. My rate reflects careful, accurate work by a qualified, experienced telecom professional.

"Considering the volume and the limited information about you (no Blue Board rating, no agency name, no web site, no indication of ATA membership), I would work under a signed contract (I have one I can propose.) with a 10% retainer for my services."

Of course, I probably won't get the work, but it may help them get in touch with reality.

I was given this advice by a well respected translator: "Remember that clients who shop
for the lowest rates are not very interested in quality and will not encourage you to do your best work. In the short term, it is damaging for your wallet. In the long term, it is damaging for your writing skills, your
self-esteem and your reputation.;-)"

Bruce


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Harry Bornemann  Identity Verified
Mexico
English to German
+ ...
I don't think it is necessary to boykott - you can simply ignore them Jul 24, 2003

Sometimes I wondered why ProZ does not help outsourcers to offer a reasonable rate.

To get the information what members consider to be reasonable you must be platinum member and have entered your individual rates, so outsourcers new to ProZ usually cannot get it.

On the other hand an outsourcer offering a ridiculous rate (whatever the definition is) unkennels himself to be unprofessional or at least unexperienced, so something is probably wrong with him.

This information helps professionals to ignore him.
That's why I don't mind the proceeding as it is. (It's a trap.)

[Edited at 2003-07-24 19:35]


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Edward Potter  Identity Verified
Local time: 11:28
Member (2003)
Spanish to English
+ ...
The price is what the price is Jul 24, 2003

This is an oft debated topic here on the proz.

The value of your work is exactly the amount agreed upon, no more, no less. If you accept the work, you do it to the best of your ability and make no complaints. If you complain about the price after agreeing to it then you are out of line, not the person who offered you the work, no matter how ridiculously low the price seems. Whenever you accept work for any price, you do so as a professional. If you do not have a professional mentality from the start, when you are accepting lower rates, then you are clearly starting out on the wrong foot.


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Rachel Mackay  Identity Verified
Local time: 10:28
French to English
+ ...
TOPIC STARTER
Hi Bruce Jul 24, 2003

The advice you were given by that respected translator is invaluable and one that we should all remember.

I did bid for this job myself, but when it appeared on translatordatabase.com before it came up on proz. In her original posting she did not (cleverly) state what amount she was willing to pay - so I put in a bid according to my experience/reputation etc. And, funnily enough, she has not got back to me!!

I think the part of your 'bid' you stated in reply to my posting should be standard for all us of - stating our competence and experience, saying we have no knowledge of that particular company, stating the rate / timeframe we are willing and able to work for and offering a contract.

I sincerely hope that all other people who have bid for this particular translation have been as wise as you!

Bonne continuation!


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TTilch  Identity Verified
Local time: 11:28
English to German
+ ...
Sound cost calculation Jul 24, 2003

Hi,

I think what we all have to do and keep in mind is a sound cost calculation. There are lots of examples to be found on the Internet, and once you have found out how much you have to earn per hour in order to make working worthwhile, nobody will be tempted to accept jobs for EUR/USD 0.02 or other ridiculous rates any longer.

Don't waste your time telling others how ridiculous their prices are - it's not worth the time. Either ignore those offers or place a bid with a reasonable price. At least some agencies/translators might consider quality more important than price (and if they don't, then there is still some hope that the final client does and will not buy another translation from an agency/translator that delivered poor quality).

Best regards,

Tanja


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Parrot  Identity Verified
Spain
Local time: 11:28
Member (2002)
Spanish to English
+ ...
The big view: just a word of caution Jul 24, 2003

I once presented myself at a bidding with an equal-opportunity outsourcer. There was an agency bidding for the same job at half my rate: I'm a direct provider, and they didn't even speak the combination requested.

I have since then seen that same agency under other circumstances, always offering jobs on the "cheap side". A colleague who took up an interpretation job with them found out that the client, with whom she had direct contact, was paying well over what they gave.

Draw your own conclusions. By this time, I think I've seen them all. Enough to deduce that the difference between 12 and 2 can account for the gap between an initial outsourcer and a third or fourth intermediary.

The objective working problem arises when, say, three intermediaries spell out three different deadlines, all telescoping into each other.

If intermediary C or B fails to deliver on time, only heaven knows what can happen. Low prices can be indicative of such pitfalls - particularly those offered by regions in which neither source nor target language are spoken.


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Gayle Wallimann  Identity Verified
Local time: 11:28
Member (2001)
French to English
+ ...
I agree with Bruce, reply with your own rates Jul 25, 2003

Bruce Popp wrote:

Hi,

I did bid, but kept my self-respect. Here is part of what I told them.

"I can translate about 3000 words a day, so during that period I could translate 60,000 words total for $6,000. My rate reflects careful, accurate work by a qualified, experienced telecom professional.

"Considering the volume and the limited information about you (no Blue Board rating, no agency name, no web site, no indication of ATA membership), I would work under a signed contract (I have one I can propose.) with a 10% retainer for my services."


I also bid, with my normal rates and volume/day. I also added this to my bid:


"...The project is very large and to complete it with one lone translator would require 18 weeks at best, not 6 weeks!....
...I doubt that you will find a translator who is capable of the volume that you want, and the rate that you offer is not at all a rate acceptable by professional translators. I hope that you will reconsider your job offer with professional translators in mind, resulting in qualtiy translation for your project."

I doubt that I will get the job either, but maybe the person will think twice about the offer. (I doubt that as well)

Gayle


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jmadsen  Identity Verified
Local time: 11:28
There will always be scabs... Jul 25, 2003

... and that is very reason that some clients still expect low rates.
Boycotting and ignoring is one means I excercise myself, but as long as there's just one translator out there who accepts low rates, the expectation will be there.

[Edited at 2003-07-25 13:28]


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Spencer Allman
United Kingdom
Local time: 10:28
Finnish to English
Absolutely Jul 25, 2003

Jørgen Madsen wrote:

... and that is very reason that some clients still expect low rates.
Boycotting and ignoring is one means I excercise myself, but as long as there's just one translator out there who accept low rates, the expectation will be there.


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Henry Dotterer
Local time: 05:28
SITE FOUNDER
Right on, Bruce and Gayle Jul 25, 2003

Gayle Wallimann wrote:

Bruce Popp wrote:
I did bid, but kept my self-respect. Here is part of what I told them.

"I can translate about 3000 words a day, so during that period I could translate 60,000 words total for $6,000. My rate reflects careful, accurate work by a qualified, experienced telecom professional.

"Considering the volume and the limited information about you (no Blue Board rating, no agency name, no web site, no indication of ATA membership), I would work under a signed contract (I have one I can propose.) with a 10% retainer for my services."


I also bid, with my normal rates and volume/day. I also added this to my bid:

"...The project is very large and to complete it with one lone translator would require 18 weeks at best, not 6 weeks!....
...I doubt that you will find a translator who is capable of the volume that you want, and the rate that you offer is not at all a rate acceptable by professional translators. I hope that you will reconsider your job offer with professional translators in mind, resulting in qualtiy translation for your project."


Informative and professional--great bids.

This strategy is the best not only for translators, but also for clients who *will* learn (don't underestimate them or assume they have ill intent until you have a reason to!)

When you have won a job this way, you'll have a client worth keeping for years.

(Of course, you don't want to spend time bidding like this on every single job -- just the ones right up your alley. Like Bruce, in this case.)


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xxxT_Herrmann  Identity Verified
Local time: 11:28
German to English
+ ...
Why even bid? Jul 26, 2003

My motto in life and in my job is "live and let live". If somebody doesn't at least somewhat fit into this, well, I guess then we don't fit together. How much support during the job can you expect from someone asking cutthroat rates like that? You shop at Saks, you get Saks, you shop at K-Mart, well, they filed for bankruptcy. Guess why? How annoyed would you be if another "good" opportunity came along, while your tied up in your 2-cent job?? Translations is one of the view "industries" where sweatshop-mentality is broadly accepted, I find that rather self-destructive. You don't see Bowne, SDL Intl., or the likes charge their clients only 18cents per word, do you? (And yes, that is a realistic rate for large agencies)

No thanks, I'll pass

[Edited at 2003-07-26 12:01]

[Edited at 2003-07-26 21:53]


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Andy Lemminger  Identity Verified
Canada
Local time: 03:28
Member (2002)
English to German
We are already doing it Jul 27, 2003

T_Herrmann wrote:
No thanks, I'll pass


And by doing this aren't you already acting exactly as Rachel suggested: Boycotting agencies who pay too little.

So really, there isn't any need for ProZ to filter offers or to establish other barriers. We are choosing our jobs ourselves and if we don't like one of them we just go our way.

If somebody else takes this "opportunity" I am not at all angry about his decision.


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